O'Connell, Carol. Bone by Bone.
I'm a great fan of O'Connell's Mallory novels, but this novel featuring another character, left me cold. In fact, none of the characters seemed to lift from the page and some were so far in the realm of bizarre that I felt completely bewildered about why so much weirdness was packed into one novel. I remember being disappointed by Judas Child (another departure from the Mallory series), but nothing much pleased me about this one.
There are plenty of elements in the novel that would have fascinated me if presented differently, but the over-the-top nature of the novel was simply too much with which to contend without some sense of identification with the characters.
Perhaps I would have liked Hannah Rice if she had had any back-up characters, but poor Hannah's character faded into the overall weirdness. She had no support system. Oren, the lead character, was too flat to really play off the housekeeper's interesting qualities and no real sense of genuine feeling came through.
A great annoyance was being hit with the phrase, "No one every goes to the library." This device was evidently supposed to provide a mysterious and humorous note, but being hit over the head with it so frequently was a problem, and the solution to that vapid mystery was disappointing and (once again) bizarre.
I had been eager to read Bone by Bone because the premise sounded interesting and because I'd seen some positive reviews (not by bloggers, but if you've read it, let me know). Evidently several critics appreciated this book much more than I did, so maybe the problem is simply mine.
The strange, flawed characters in the Mallory novels appeal to me, but even if they seem far-fetched, they are so well-developed that I was always eager for the next installment. Oren is dull as ditch water and his attachment to Isabelle...masochistic and given that he had never spoken to her, peculiar. However, that appears to have been Isabelle's situation as well. Hmm, masochistic describes several relationships in this novel: "You hate me; I love you."
Fiction. Mystery. 2008. 340 pages.